As I have written about in previous blogs, there is a psychological impact of hair loss, like any other loss, so I don’t want to make light of it, or the pain caused by it. But to linger in the stages of grief too long can hurt us too.
So along with those grief processing steps that famously end in acceptance, let’s look at some things to think about along with way.
- Your Perspective: You know by now that you are your own worst critic. We’ve all heard it and it is true – you are harder on yourself than anyone else is. This also means that you probably view your hair loss more critically than others do.
- Your Feelings: It’s not the end of the world, and there are many worse things many other people must deal with—right? Yes, we know this, and some of us might have even had that sentence directed at us. Knowing it and internalizing it is a different thing. It takes a little time, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Learning to live with your hair loss is a psychological challenge but it is only as difficult as you make it—however, we need tools to deal with it just like any other problem or challenge.
- Your Solutions: Find help if you need it. Most of you who read this have long since gone to the doctor and you know all about your hair loss, but now you need a different kind of help. You need help from people who know about wigs and wig care. You need to find others who are dealing with this—you need support from those who can understand.
- Your Options: Professional therapy is there for you. If you’re still having trouble coping with your hair loss, some professionals can help you work through those grief stages. Don’t write off your pain because you are afraid of being seen as weak. Issues with anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem can impact your mental health both in the short and long term. Get the help that you need and don’t feel bad about it for one second.
We may not have a choice about losing our hair, but we can choose how to respond. We can refuse to live in denial and allow hair loss to destroy our confidence and quality of life. Getting the help that we need is the first step. Learning about wigs and how they can enhance your life is the next step and just as important. Talk to people who know about wigs, and don’t be shy about asking questions. I’ve found that most people do want to help if we just ask. I find this especially true in the wig community because a lot of the people have gone through the same challenges themselves. They know about the feeling of loss, dealing with self-esteem issues, going through the stages of grief, and getting to acceptance—and then going on to help others.
Things NOT to do:
Please don’t give up after trying just one or two wigs. You will likely feel the same as a lot of people: the wig has too much hair (because you are not used to seeing yourself with a thick head of hair), and the fit is not right. Granted, some wigs do have a lot of hair, but you should know that some have a lower density and no permatese if that is what you like best. In other words, don’t make quick decisions. There is a wig cap learning curve as well. Did you measure your head? Do you know about the different cap styles/construction? Also, know that it will take a while to get rid of the feeling that something is sitting on your head.
Don’t think that you will look like the wig model. Have realistic expectations. Your face shape, coloring, and age may or may not be the same as the models. Even the length of your head and neck will be different, causing the wig to look longer or shorter on you, perhaps.
Don’t be afraid to put your hands in and on your wig. This can be tricky because you don’t want to mess up the “factory part” if there is a chance you might want to return the win. If you know you like it and will keep it, get in there and style it. Very few wigs come right out of the box looking great. Don’t be afraid to use the proper products on it to make it your own look. Put clips in or wear a headband to add an even more realistic look.
Don’t give up because you haven’t found the right way to secure your wig. And by “right” I mean the way that works for you. Different people like and use different methods. I am a “purist” in that I like nothing but an occasional clip or bobby pin to secure mine if I go to the dentist. But I have found a cap that fits me well. Also, I don’t do a lot of up and down, running around, being outside, etc., that might require a more secure means. So, as you can see, securing your wig is a very personal choice. Find what works for you and your life.
A happy ending—yes, there is one. Before you know it you will be a pro in your own right. You will know all about caps, fibers, heat-friendly wigs, and how to care for them. You’ll know which colors and styles flatter you—and there is when the fun begins. You have options! Just take a look at the website today—wow.
Until next time, remember, we must make many choices every day. Today, let’s Choose to be Confident.
Vickie Lynn --and Ollie the Owl (sitting among my violets in my living room looking very confident indeed).
When dealing with hair loss for whatever reason, it is often the case that your friends and family won’t know what to say to you. There will be a range of thoughts and feelings on both sides. If your spouse or partner is struggling with how to help you, here are some suggestions that might help.
- Be honest about your feelings and ask them to listen to those feelings without judgment. Hair loss can elicit strong emotions as it signals a change in appearance that may impact self-esteem. Those emotions might present in different ways. Explain that you need time to deal with this and that your mood might be somewhat rocky for a bit.
- Explain that you need time and support and let them know what they can do to help in that regard.
- Ask for what you really need. Do you need financial help to afford a wig or someone to help you find places that sell wigs? Do you need help talking to your insurance company about reimbursement for wig costs due to a health condition?
- Keep the lines of communication open. The loss of your hair and/or changes in a health condition will be new to your family members and/or friends too. Most likely they will have no idea how to help you or what to say or do. Don’t withdraw from your family and friends, they can be your support system, but they will need to know how to do that. They will be looking to you to tell them.
- Don’t become a recluse. Be kind to yourself—exercise, practice meditation, listen to music or engage in other activities that can keep your emotions in balance. But don’t hide away and carry this challenge alone.
- Find a support group. Until you feel comfortable with wig-wearing, participate online with those going through the same thing. (WigStudio1 has a fabulous Facebook group). You will not only get emotional support, but you will also get a real wig education. You can benefit from the experience of others, not only in dealing with hair loss but in getting to know all about wigs. It’s a priceless resource.
- Baby Steps. Know that it gets easier! Feelings about hair loss may change over time. You will become comfortable wearing a wig, and not just comfortable but secure about how you look. It is easier for some than others to adapt, but everyone does eventually. You will come to see that you, the real you, is still there no matter what is left of your bio hair or what wig you are wearing. You are not your hair.
- Talking to Children about your hair loss: It may be helpful to keep in mind that children benefit from simple and clear explanations that are easy to understand. (You know your children or the young people in your family best).
The American Cancer Society often reminds patients to provide concrete, age-appropriate information when speaking about a health issue, including your hair loss, to your children or younger family members. Some children will want to hear more detailed scientific explanations, and others will be satisfied with general information. Answer the children’s questions as accurately as possible. Take their age and prior experiences with illness into account. If your loss is due to cancer, Oncology social workers can help you to find the best ways of engaging in these conversations given your child’s age and developmental stage.
There is help and support out there so don’t try to do it all alone.
Wishing you a happy and productive autumn and remember to check out the WigStudio1 Facebook group. And happy wig buying. So many wigs, so little time…
Until next week,